In Memory of Rob Stewart, December 28, 1979 – January 31, 2017.
Filmmaker, shark activist and hero. Lush remembers our long-time friend and collaborator.
On January 31st, 2017, we lost Rob Stewart in a dive accident while he was filming Sharkwater: Extinction. Rob was a filmmaker, advocate for oceans and sharks, and hero. We remember our cherished friend and are proud to have supported Rob’s work and mission over the years.
Rob Stewart dreamed of seeing a world safe for sharks. In 2002, Stewart was working as an underwater photographer in the Galapagos Islands when he discovered illegal longlining for sharks. In this cruel practice, sharks are baited and trapped, their fins are cut off and they’re thrown back into the ocean, dead or alive. Shocked by this discovery, he created the award-winning Sharkwater documentary in 2007 to raise awareness about shark finning and its consequences on ocean health. Charismatic, passionate, and full of energy, he quickly became a celebrated spokesperson for the creatures and places he loved.
In 2012, he released his next film, Revolution, which offered a new perspective on conservation, exploring the idea that we must save the oceans to save our own species. Revolution was also the first film to bring awareness to the devastating effects of ocean acidification.
In January 2017, Stewart traveled to Florida to capture footage of the endangered sawfish for his next documentary. Tragically, a diving accident claimed his life.
In 2018, Rob’s close friends and family completed Sharkwater: Extinction after his passing. Since the film’s premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, it has won over 46 awards around the world.
Rob’s films reached millions of people and changed our planet for the better. He had thousands of followers and supporters who admired his perseverance and dedication to shark conservation. Sharkwater brought the issue of shark finning to the world stage. He has been credited for saving one third of the world’s sharks since the release of Sharkwater. Sharkwater: Extinction, continues that mission by uncovering how sharks are being used in consumer products; cosmetics and personal care products, including lip balm, moisturizers, sunscreens, fertilizer, fish and livestock feed and even in pet foods. Rob’s work showed that up to 150 million sharks are still being killed annually for shark fin soup and other products containing shark for human consumption.
Lush and Rob Stewart
As soon as Lush crossed paths with Rob, we jumped at the chance to support outreach for Sharkwater and Revolution. Through the creation and sales of the limited-edition Shark Fin Soap and in-shop campaigns to raise awareness, we raised money for film screenings and on-going work. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, we collaborated with Stewart, his network of chapters called United Conservationist (UC), and the Discovery Channel to promote a message of conservation during Discovery’s Shark Week. Together, we brought UC’s Fin Free Movement to a wider audience and encouraged customers and staff to speak up against shark finning. Shark Fin Soap was also sold at this time to raise funds that would support UC’s ongoing work.
Since Rob’s passing we have seen progress in the fight to save sharks across the globe:
- In 2019, Canada banned the shark fin trade, the first G20 country to ban the import and export of shark fins. Rob’s films, research and advocacy have resulted in more than a 100 countries banning shark finning with 41 countries banning shark finning, fishing and shark trade entirely. To date, 14 U.S. states and 3 territories have banned the sale of fins. With that said, the United States Congress has yet to pass The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. If you are in the United States, please support this bill by sending an email to your Member of Congress.
- In September 2018, California passed a bill to ban drift net fishing as a result of Rob’s advocacy, thanks to film footage that showed not only swordfish getting caught in these nets but also dolphins, whales, turtles and sharks—among other sea life.
To honor Stewart’s work and his memory, Lush re-launched Shark Fin Soap on World Oceans Day 2017 and all sales supported work to continue his legacy.
Other funds formed the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation in 2019 to support shark and ocean conservation efforts. The foundation works to inspire others to live their own dreams and make a difference by protecting sharks, our ecosystems and our oceans. The foundation also helps create the tools required to engage others in educating our communities worldwide.
As a business that cares deeply about people, animals and the planet, it is no surprise that we continue to be greatly inspired by Rob’s work. We’re committed to working towards his vision of healthy oceans for a healthy planet. To learn more about Rob and his work please visit the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation and if Rob’s work inspires you, please consider making a donation here.
Working together, we can make positive change!